1. Oermann, Marilyn H. PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN

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As schools of nursing begin their hiring for the next academic year, I think about the preparation of nurse faculty and question some of our decisions in nursing about that preparation. Years ago, I wrote about the faculty shortage in nursing and reasons for the shortage-aging nursing faculty workforce, fewer graduate students preparing for educator roles, and disparity in salaries between nurse educators in academic settings compared with advanced practice nurses and nurse administrators: Does that sound familiar? In that article in 2005, I also expressed concern about the growing number of faculty positions being filled by advanced practice nurses and other nurses who were not prepared for their role as an educator.1 I remember the era in nursing education when graduates of master's programs had role preparation as a nurse educator but lacked expertise in clinical nursing practice. As we shifted our master's programs to advanced practice nursing, preparation for the role of faculty was no longer valued. In 2005, I wrote that "While advanced knowledge and skill in a clinical area are essential for the educator role, clinical expertise alone is insufficient preparation for teaching in schools of nursing."1(p2) Today, I stand by that statement and would expand it: expertise as a researcher is also insufficient preparation for teaching in schools of nursing.


Some schools of nursing offer master's degrees in nursing education and others prepare nurse educators through certificate programs. We have a few doctoral programs that prepare nurses as teachers and scholars who can conduct research to build the science of nursing education. For the most part, though, many nurse faculty continue to gain their knowledge and competencies for teaching "on the job." With the extensive knowledge needed for the faculty role, this is no longer an appropriate model. Although faculty development and continuing education programs combined with mentors will meet some of the needs of novice faculty, these programs do not provide the depth of understanding needed for curriculum development, teaching in multiple environments, working with diverse students with a wide range of learning needs and preferences, writing test questions, developing assessment methods, and the list goes on.


Most of the vacancies (89.6%) in schools of nursing are for faculty with a doctoral degree.2 While doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs focus on advanced practice, more than 30% of these graduates teach in nursing programs,3,4 and as DNP programs continue to expand, this percentage is likely to increase. Too many of those graduates are not prepared for the role of teacher or for the other responsibilities they will assume in a faculty role. Fewer students are enrolling in doctor of philosophy (PhD) programs, but they too need to be prepared academically for their future role as a nurse faculty member.


What about nursing education scholarship and research? Who is preparing nurse educators with skills to conduct high-quality studies about students, teaching, and other areas related to our practice as teachers? To disseminate their findings in the literature? To translate evidence into teaching? And so forth. Graduates of master's nursing education programs are not prepared to do this. Among our growing number of DNP graduates, few have conducted translational projects related to learning, teaching, and other areas of nursing education. That is not a goal of those programs. There are too few PhD in nursing programs in which students study phenomena related to nursing education.


With the extensive knowledge and competencies needed for effective teaching in nursing, and our need to build our scholarship of teaching and learning, we cannot expect nurse educators to be prepared "on the job"-it is not fair to the faculty member, students, or school. We should educate students in master's nursing education programs to be our expert teachers in clinical settings and simulation. In our practice- and research-focused doctoral programs, let's allocate some credits within programs for students to gain in-depth knowledge about learning, teaching, curriculum development, evaluation and assessment, and the nurse educator role; have experience in teaching under the guidance of an expert nurse educator if they do not already have that experience; and develop their competencies in the scholarship of teaching and learning.




1. Oermann MH. Post-master's certificate in nursing education. Int J Nurs Educ Scholarsh. 2005;2(1): art 8. [Context Link]


2. American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Nurse Faculty Shortage. 2015. Available at September 26, 2016. [Context Link]


3. National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice. The Impact of the Nurse Faculty Shortage on Nurse Education and Practice. 2010. Available at Accessed October 29, 2016. [Context Link]


4. Smeltzer SC, Sharts-Hopko NC, Cantrell MA, et al. Challenges to research productivity of doctoral program nursing faculty. Nurs Outlook. 2014;62(4):268-274. [Context Link]